With the 2020 campaign rapidly approaching, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey admitted his level of concern is "high to very high" when it comes to playing college football during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We put a medical advisory group together in early April with the question, 'What do we have to do to get back to activity?' And they've been a big part of the conversation," Sankey said on "Marty & McGee" Saturday, according to ESPN's Andrea Adelson. "But the direct reality is not good and the notion that we've politicized medical guidance of distancing, and breathing masks, and hand sanitization, ventilation of being outside, being careful where you are in buildings.
"There's some very clear advice about ... you can't mitigate and eliminate every risk, but how do you minimize the risk? ... We are running out of time to correct and get things right, and as a society we owe it to each other to be as healthy as we can be."
It's becoming increasingly clear that the upcoming season, should it play out, will look significantly different than normal. Both the Big Ten and Pac-12 recently announced conference-only schedules, but Sankey said the SEC's deadline to make a final decision regarding scheduling remains in late July.
"What I've tried to do is both keep a focus on what's ahead but provide reality, which has been I'm going to focus on preparing to play the season as scheduled but acknowledge the circumstances around coronavirus are going to guide us in that decision-making," he said. "And the reality right now is the trends in our region, in our nation, are not in the positive direction for being able to have normal experiences."
A handful of SEC programs recently reported multiple student-athletes tested positive for coronavirus, including at Alabama and Auburn.